eileen sheridan 2

The picture is of  Eileen Sheridan who in 1954 cycled Lands End to John O’ Groats in 2 days 11 hours and 7 mins; an astonishing achievement.

My own personal little goal has been somewhat more modest…. but has been achieved.

I cycled 192 miles over a very hilly two day sportive. It was a relief that everything went according to plan as I had been cycling for charity and that adds lots of pressure to the event. My knees had been a bit painful too, which had made me very nervous. Now I know I can do this though. It was actually entirely possible.

I am so happy that all the extremely generous people I know have helped there to now be in excess of £2,000 to give to the Children’s Cancer Ward at Southampton Hospital. Thank you everybody. You are all so kind.

One of the best things about the event were all to do with being with other lovely people, especially my cheerful, calm and lovely Cousin James. Thank goodness for his optimism and humour! And the three guys who I had cycled with on a couple of training runs-they were fun and motivating too (plus pretty fast!)

I also had amazing pre-event support and help from a very kind Soprano colleague, Kate Patterson, and lots of encouragement from Siobhain Gibson, whose nephew it is being treated at  the Paediatric Oncology Ward for which we were raising money.


I am now looking for other challenges out there to try.


I recently read about Billie Fleming (Dovey) cycling nearly 30,000 miles around Great Britain in one year in 1938 at an average of 81 miles per day. She did it on a three gear heavy steel bike. This lady was only 24 or thereabouts, so I expect she didn’t worry about her knees….One day she decided to cycle from York back home to London (about 195miles) and said it was ‘great fun’.billie fleming


Her record has never been broken. Who has the time to be cycling 81 miles every day for a year!

Mark Beaumont did something astonishing too. He cycled around the world in about  210 days, averaging about 100 miles a day.mark beaumont

This is a wonderful challenge. It is a very different kind of proposition for females however, because of the specific gender related dangers for women of crossing many of the countries. Anne Mustoe did it after giving up her job as a Head teacher of a girl’s school in the 1950’s. She encountered all sorts of dreadful problems with being bothered by men as she crossed the continents. Ugh. It really puts me off the whole travelling long distances thing. I would much prefer to be travelling with my soul partner (my husband) on a long trip.

There is also Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (she renamed herself for the purposes of financial gain to promote a certain company to “Londonderry“) who cycled around the globe for a bet in 1894. As the San Francisco Chronicle describes it “She had a degree of self-assurance somewhat unusual for her sex”. Controversially she left behind a family of three children under six while she went off for 15 months.This woman was obviously interested in going for broke in terms of pushing her limits….annie londonderry


There are Triathlons of course, and lots of people my age get in to all of that. However, there is loads of ‘kit’ and it all seems very focussed, stressy a bit too aggressive for my liking. I’m competitive, but more for myself, not with other people.

Running marathons are another option, but I’m pretty old to be starting that game.


The well known’ Land’s End to John O’ Groats’, also known as the ‘End to End’ or ‘Lejog’ cycle ride is something I would LOVE to do. The wonderful Eileen Sheridan, who broke pretty much every cycling record in her career, did it in 1954 in 2 days 11 hours and 7 minutes, a record broken by Pauline Strong who did 2 days, 6hrs 49 mins and then Lynne Taylor in 2002, who did it in 45hrs worth of rain in 2 days 5hrs and 48mins. eileen sheridan 3

Here are a couple more pictures of Eileen Sheridan.

eileen sheridan

I have a violinist friend who managed it in 5 days, under horrendous conditions on all busy roads, and with minimum sleep and with, as far as I understand it, minimal training too! Wow to all of the above. I would be pleased to do it in two weeks, never mind two days!

While I’m on women cyclists lets talk about the amazing Beryl Burton OBE, from Yorkshire who set a 12 hour time trial record which exceeded the men’s record for two years. On the track she won international time trial titles every year for 30 years. She won 72 national individual time trial titles, and lots of other pursuits too. BerylBurton2

This is Beryl Burton-a fantastic cyclist.


Time Trialing, Track events and the Velodrome all seem to belong to the domain of the younger faster folk. May be though……

Any other suggestions for Challenges would be gratefully received however.

In the meantime, I am still booking up with willing participants to my ‘visiting programme’. I am hoping to visit a lovely mezzo with a gift for all things sewing, and two boys who are major lego enthusiasts.

Watch this space-

3 thoughts on “CHALLENGES

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